Pixels (2015)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Contains spoilers.

Adam Sandler used to be funny. My childhood loved him. But adult me knows that his movies, as they are, aren't actually that great. His movies have earned hundreds of millions, and so will Pixels, but that doesn't mean they're/it's good.

Pixels tells the story of Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) and his two friends, Will Cooper and Ludlow Lamonsoff (Kevin James and Josh Gad, respectively), and nemesis Eddie Plant (Peter Dinklage) as they work themselves to the bone (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha) to save the world from classic, arcade game characters that have been brought to life by aliens for glorious combat against mankind. As kids, the group had attended the First Annual Worldwide Arcade Game Championship, where it was announced that the event would be recorded and launched into space as part of a message, in the hopes that intelligent life might find it and then make themselves known to us. Apparently, aliens received the message (and only cared about the video game part...) because they come to Earth, 30 years later, with an army of video game characters to wage a meticulously staged war with us. The government, with James' character Will Cooper as the president (even more laughs), turn to four "nerds" for help...

If the premise sounds terrible, that's because it is. It's as terrible a story as Kevin James is at playing a president. The story is laughable, with dialogue and jokes that are tedious, at best. The exposition is painfully boring and unbelievable, and the 80s soundtrack as a touch of nostalgia just doesn't carry over. Is it supposed to be a nice look back for adults or a fun comedy for children?

As we walked out of the theater my girlfriend said, "I can't believe they let it go on like that. Seriously, no one tried to make it better?"

The characters, likewise, are boring and unbelievable. Sandler tries hard to shove his familiar wit into the empty space of this bloated, witless film but his familiar wit isn't funny anymore. His wordplay is laughable (in the bad way) and his attempts to be charismatic fall amazingly short. How anyone could possibly believe that the hottie (Lieutenant Colonel Violet Van Patten, played by Michelle Monaghan) would fall for him is anyone's guess, but maybe they could insert some more terribly directed scenes, like van Patten leaning over to buckle Brenner's seatbelt because there's no way a 40-year-old could do that himself.

There's almost nothing good to say about this movie. The CG is mediocre, despite its extensive use, because it was choreographed so terribly, as if the actors were given almost no direction, probably just, "Shoot where you want, we'll add enemies in post." And they did, because it never feels quite right when the CG is on screen, as if there were a couple too many enemies added into the shots so the actors didn't have the marks for everything. And some dialogue was simply stupid and poorly delivered, like when the army is waiting for the alien arrival and van Patten claims, "It's all quiet out here," when in the next shot everyone gathered is looking at the brightly lit, nighttime clouds as alien forms start to descend into view.

Some scenes are astonishingly painful, like Josh Gad's attempt to lecture Navy Seals. Actually, any scene with Josh Gad (and/or Kevin James) is painful, with his weirdo-conspiracy-theorist-nerd shtick getting old and annoying after the first 10 minutes. Overall, the choices of director Chris Columbus are fantastically odd, like his choice of how to portray two 13-year-olds paying for arcade game-use: steal a girl's tub of quarters from her lemonade stand, of course, because there's no way that two 13-year-old boys would have an allowance, right? Why even include that bit of background? It makes no sense, like most of the movie.

Pixels is like a massive contest of "Which aspect of this can be the absolute worst," because everything about it competes for failure. This failure shoves modern Hollywood down our throats, putting on display exactly how full of shit most movies are. So let me finish by pleading, begging, praying that this movie is the end of it: no franchise, no Adam Sandler, no Chris Columbus, no Kevin James, please no more.

I thought Minions was bad, but this was just bloody awful. I might have to make a page for the 5 worst reviews just so I can really get across how bad Pixels is. It is a waste of time and money: please do not see it.


TL;DR: As we walked out of the theater my girlfriend said, "I can't believe they let it go on like that. Seriously, no one tried to make it better?" In our spare time, we like to watch movies by such glorious studios as The Asylum (they made Sharknado) so if this ranks as 'bad' to us then it must be pretty bad. In fact, there was once a time when Adam Sandler made good movies but, with the release of Pixels, it can be officially said that those days are dead and buried as it is one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

  • Acting – 1 / 10
  • Story – 0 / 10
  • Cinematography – 5 / 20
  • Soundtrack – 1 / 10
  • Entertainment Factor – 10 / 30
  • Action/Comedy – 0 / 10
  • Other – 0 / 10

Grade F = 17 / 100